Of all the things I learned and phrases I heard in preparing for Text Message, this one has stayed with me more than any other:
The Bible was written for us but not to us.
Think about that. All the books of the bible had an original intended audience.
Genesis was to the early Jews.
Deuteronomy was to the Jews established in the Promised Land.
Psalm 137 was to the exiled Jews.
Nehemiah was to the newly returned Jews.
Matthew was to early Jesus-followers of Jewish ancestry.
John was to persecuted believers.
Romans was to the church in Rome.
Philippians was to the church in Philippi.
And, most importantly yet most forgotten, Revelation was to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
None were written to 21st Century American Christians.
The result? The books of the bible can't mean to us what they didn't mean to them. This is especially true of the book of Revelation.
The task of modern-day bible readers, then, is to excavate what the different books meant to their original, intended audiences . . . and then apply those truths & insights into today.
Because although the bible is not written to us, its truth and beauty are most definitely for us.